ROBERT "SHOWBOAT" HALL, one of the most revered showmen in the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, died Dec. 24 in his hometown of Detroit. He was 87.

Hall played his first season as a Globetrotter in 1949 and succeeded Reece "Goose" Tatum as the team's top showman in 1955. Hall played in more than 5,000 games in nearly 90 countries during his career, teaming with the likes of Tatum, Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins and Marques Haynes.

The former Miller High School star filled the dual role of player and coach beginning in 1968, holding that role until he retired in 1974. A 6'-2" pivot man, Hall learned his basketball trade at Detroit's famed Brewster Center, a training ground of many top-notch Motor City athletes.

"The Globetrotters family has lost one of its most esteemed members," said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider.

Hall was part of the Globetrotter squad that traveled to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War in 1959 and bridged a cultural gap many thought would stand forever.  The historic tour was chronicled in the ESPN Films' 30 for 30 Shorts documentary "From Harlem With Love."

-Daily News wire services